Climate Change Archives - Earth Charter

Tribute to Maurice F. Strong (1929 – 2015)

 “We are victims of ‘the struggle between ecosystems and egosystems’.
It is the egos of people, governments, businesses that prevent solutions and generate a terrible lack of political will.

 

Maurice F. Strong speech at the Earth Charter+5
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Earth Charter International mourns the passing of Maurice F. Strong, co-chair of the Earth Charter Commission. All of us involved in the sustainability movement share special feelings of gratitude and admiration for the unique role he played and brilliant leadership he provided over many years in the global process of social transformation.

As the Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit, founder of UNEP, The Earth Council, The Earth Charter Initiative and many other great movements, he was able to significantly influence historical changes, proven by the numerous conventions and international policies that emerged on the environment and sustainability over the past 30 years. At the turn of the century, Koffi Annan invited him to take on the task of revitalizing the University for Peace, to which he dedicated all his efforts as the Rector and the chair of the Council for several years.

As a member of the Brundtland Commission and Secretary General of the Earth Summit in 1992, Mr. Strong took on the commitment to carry the idea of an Earth Charter forward (which was a recommendation made in the Brundtand Commission Report and according to him an unfinished piece of business of the Rio Earth Summit). Therefore, in 1994, together with Mikhail Gorbachev he launched the Earth Charter Initiative and became the co-Chair of the International Commission.

We would like to stress his unique ability to communicate with people from all walks of life and his tireless commitment and vision towards elevating the voices of non-state actors in the international policy arena. The fact that Agenda 21 has a whole section on The Role of Major Groups, which has subsequently opened up many possibilities, is in great part due to his capacity to envision a new multi-stakeholder process of decision making.

In light of the opening of COP21, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on some of the messages he used to convey:

“We know what we should do; science and technology can help us to do it. We know the solutions and we know what to do in the future. But we are not doing it. We are not able to make the transition to a sustainable way of life. Moral, ethical and spiritual responsibility hangs on today’s generation and emerging generations. We must reach into the hearts and souls of all people, and work with them for what we all want: a healthy whole community, happy children, and a secure life on Earth.”

 

Maurice F. Strong, Earth Charter+5 Event,
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Following in his footsteps, we would like to move ahead with determination and a deep sense of intergenerational commitment to carry forward the great work that he started and that we still have ahead of us, which is to continue to influence the process of changing the development model through the awakening of a new global consciousness.

We want to express our condolences and sentiments to his family, friends, and past colleagues and above all remember and celebrate his life with gratitude.

Earth Charter International Secretariat and Council

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“I want to thank Mr. Strong for everything he has done. A leader is someone who has a vision to make things better and dedicates all possible efforts to make it happen gathering the cooperation of many. A leader is able to communicate that vision well, inspire and engage many, and influence processes of change. Mr. Strong did that in an outstanding way. I feel deep admiration, respect, and gratitude to him for his consistency over the years, for his vision, and life dedication to address the world´s environmental challenges and make sustainability a reality.”

Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International

“We have read with sadness and empathy of the passing of Maurice. We are all indebted to his leadership on environmental issues these many years.
May his work live on! We send our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family.”

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau’s statement.

Al Gore’s statement.

UNEP statement.

The Guardian article, Maurice Strong: A Sustainable Life by Felix Dodds

The New York Times article AP, UN: Maurice Strong, Climate and Development Pioneer, Dies

A tribute from Ronald Leger.

Please, feel free to leave a tribute message of your own in the comment section below.

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Earth Charter International partners for climate change theater production

The Little Theatre Group of San Jose, Costa Rica, with the support of Earth Charter International, recently participated in an international Climate Change Theatre Action with more than 100 other groups around the world to raise awareness through the art of theatre on the issue of climate change before the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21) at the end of November 2015. ECI was inspired to join the effort by the Earth Charter principle 14 b., which states, “Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.”

The Climate Change Theatre Action was a joint initiative among three organizations, NoPassport, The Arctic Cycle, and Theatre without Borders. Together, they organized this global Climate Change Theatre Action and more than 100 groups in more than 20 countries are participating, joining the Little Theatre Group and Earth Charter International.

The production by the Little Theatre Group was titled “Nature Acts”, adapted from a quotation by Voltaire, “Men argue, nature acts”. The performance consisted of both thought provoking and humorous monologues and short plays performed by actors of the Little Theatre Group and by actors from the University for Peace community. The production sold out all three of its shows and more than 100 members of the audience learned about the Earth Charter and took home messages about the importance of climate change action and sustainability.

Find out more here.

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ECI hosts final EC+15 webinar of 2015

On November 17th, Earth Charter International was joined by Nigel Dower, a senior academic specializing in the ethics and philosophy of development, environment, and international relations, and by Prue Taylor, an expert in environmental law and ethics for the last webinar of ECI’s EC+15 celebrations. The webinar was titled “The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship”. This webinar finished a very important year for sustainable development and international relations. 2015 saw the agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals, strong ethical statements including the Pope’s Encyclical, and the webinar was aired only days before the beginning of the Paris COP21 Climate talks.

Nigel Dower focused his segment on global citizenship and broke down the concept and discussed the way people construct global identities and to what degree these are deep or shallow. He discussed the different ways one can be a member of a community including moral, legal, and political associations, among others. He continued on to talk about global ethics and relate that to the Earth Charter. He praised the value of the Earth Charter as a valid expression of global ethics and mentioned several of its core values that support that global ethic within the framework of the climate negotiations including valuing non-human life, the importance of sustainable livelihoods, and the vision of living fully.

Prue Taylor’s discussion began with her thoughts on the Earth Charter and then moved into a related discussion on the idea of the commons and its power to help shape changing worldviews and international policy discourse. She continued to explore the importance of the commons concept and link it to the values found in the Earth Charter. She continued on to speak about how these values are playing out at the international policy level in relation to the climate change talks and she also mentioned the importance of the emerging ethical statements by religious leaders and movements. Prue finished with a short summary of findings from a recent IUCN publication that she worked on titled “Ethics and Climate Change: A Study of National Commitments” and explained how morally weak most of these commitments are. She urged individuals to take a stronger moral stand and analyze ethically the implications of governments’ decisions regarding issues such as climate change.

 The question and answer that followed was engaged and interesting.

ECI is very thankful to both Nigel and Prue as well as all the other speakers and participants throughout the year who have made EC+15 a special year in celebrating the emerging paradigm of which the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter movement are a part.

You can see the replay here and download the speakers’ presentations as PDFs below.

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Canada’s election bring hope for renewed values

Guest post by Valerie Elliott, ECI Affiliate from iD2 Communications

Canada has just held its 42nd federal election. As an Earth Charter affiliate, I wanted to share some of my personal insights and my hope for Canada’s future.

I am not alone in feeling hopeful since the election of our new prime minister, 43-year-old Justin Trudeau. The son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was prime minister from 1968 to 1974, Justin leads the Liberal party, a centre-left party.

Justin Trudeau’s election is exciting to many Canadians because for the past 10 years Canada has been led by Stephen Harper, a Conservative whose policies have been contentious and caused great division in the country. He did not support climate action policies, was a supporter of the oil and gas industry, involved Canada in war, brought forward policies that removed the rights of citizens and had a closed door culture.

We always hope that new governments will show great leadership and learn to adhere to Earth Charter values and principles even when they are lofty goals. Yet in the first few days since Trudeau’s election we’ve already seen a significant change in values that this prime minister will bring to the table.

The first very noticed change by journalists was the answering of questions in the press gallery. It is apparent that in his first days he is wishing to set a tone that is a contrast from his predecessor. In keeping with EC pillars of democracy, Trudeau made clear that he is looking for gender equity when appointing his cabinet and that he expects his cabinet to practice non-partisan politics.

Many promises have been made. Realistically, some of those promises will be broken, but there is no question that Canadians are eager to see a change in our culture. Transparency and accountability are badly needed in Canada and Trudeau has the opportunity to demonstrate what that could look like.

Trudeau has committed to reviewing our existing electoral system to strengthen our democratic process. He has promised to withdraw from the coalition battle against the Islamic State while maintaining humanitarian aid. He has pledged to attend the Paris COP21 climate conference and has assured Canadians that he will not turn his back on the environment. In contrast, under Stephen Harper’s government, where once we had over 2 million protected lakes and rivers, we now have under 200. Canadians expect to see much of what Harper did reversed.

Some pundits are excited about the election result believing that Canadians banded together to “vote for change.” My hope is that we will continue working to improve and better our electoral system to ensure sustainable improvements for our culture, social, economic, and environmental concerns. I love Canada but I won’t sugarcoat the fact that Canada must evolve. Many Aboriginal people, the largest growing population in the country, live in horrific conditions. First Nations’ homes are 90 per cent more likely to be without running water, and what water does exist is likely on a boil water advisory. EC goals, such as the right of each person to realize their own potential, are goals we must embrace and ensure our government takes action on.

The election showed us possibility. Canadians, recognizing that EC principles better our communities, rejected hateful bigotry in favour of compassion and a willingness to help refugees in need. Indigenous people voted, many for the first time, and a total of 10 indigenous MPs were elected. Voter turnout in rural areas was the highest it’s been in years. Women are expected to be more equally represented both in the cabinet and within the government. And while Harper strategists worked hard to create division through values, they instead found confirmation about what the majority of Canadians want and are now demanding: inclusion; acceptance; respect; care; and equality. We are at a turning point and Canada is set to flourish through the EC values that will result.

UPDATE: I wrote this article the day of the election. Since then, Prime Minister Trudeau has been sworn in and his cabinet appointed, with exactly a 50/50 split in gender, representation of Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and more. Canada is extremely hopeful at present.

Photo of Justin Trudeau by Alex Guibord

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ECI hosts fifth EC+15 webinar of 2015

On November 5th, 2015, Earth Charter International held its fifth webinar in a series of online events to celebrate the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary. ECI held the event in the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development in Costa Rica on the University for Peace campus. The event was attended by more than 50 people from the UPEACE community with another dozen joining in online.

The special guest speaker was Mr. Jan Pronk, former Dutch Development Cooperation Minister and Former Minster for Environment, a hands-on leader in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. Mr. Pronk was also the Chairman of the 6th Conference of Parties UN Convention on Climate Change (2000-2001) and Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2001-2003). He is now a Special Advisor to the Earth Charter International.

Mr. Pronk took about 30 minutes to talk about his experience and observations of climate policy over the last 20-plus years. He described the history of climate negotiations, stressing the importance of achievements in policies developed in the 1990s, especially the articulation of five major terms or principles: 1) The Precautionary Principle; 2) Common but Differentiated Responsibilities; 3) Responsibilities beyond national borders; 4) Sustainability; and, 5) Fair and equitable solutions. He also emphasized the importance that the Kyoto Protocol negotiations managed to agree on a binding treaty and the fact that we cannot rely on voluntary agreements only. He continued to describe the deficits in the current process and measures to be taken at the COP21 in Paris starting at the end of November. Mr. Pronk highlighted the drawbacks to the voluntary carbon reduction strategy, the necessity of questioning the right to comfort lifestyles by the wealthy countries, and he lamented what he observes to be an inadequate response to the climate challenge by states in the current negotiations.

The observations and explanations by Mr. Pronk were followed by more than 45 minutes of questions and answers by both the audience in the room and the online participants. The back and forth was lively and informative. Mostly, Mr. Pronk offers a pessimistic opinion of the prospects for a good climate deal and, although he doesn’t spell out consequences, he cited Darfur and Syria as being examples of climate change exacerbated tragedies. While he also didn’t explicitly state it, his talk implies his thinking that more of these occurrences will take place in the future. Speaking about the Earth Charter +15 slogan, “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”, Mr. Pronk shared the feeling that on one hand this notion is a dream and on the other it is a fact. He expressed concern about who is to decide global society’s common destiny, and that present-day consequences might not affect the whole world community in the same way. He also placed an emphasis on the predominance of globalization as a market phenomenon, and lamented that the market paradigm frames the global mindset, making the “Earth Community” more of an Earth marketplace than a community. He also stated that while the idea of the Earth Community is a vision, it is also a reality, only one that has not embraced the values of the Earth Charter.
 
You can see and hear the recording of the session here.

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Two more webinars in November, one on climate change, the other on global citizenship



Earth Charter +15 Webinar

From Rio ‘92 to COP21 Paris: Challenges and Opportunities
for Climate Change Politics and Policies

On November 5th, 2015 ECI will host the fifth in a series of webinars in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter. This time we will be joined by former Dutch Development Cooperation Minister and Former Minster for Environment Jan Pronk, a hands-on leader in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

More information here.

Earth Charter +15 Webinar

The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship

On November 17th, 2015, ECI will host its sixth webinar in a series that began in February to celebrate the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary, to look back, observe the current issues of relevance to the Earth Charter, and to look ahead to the future of sustainability work and ethics. We will be joined on November 17th by Nigel Dower, a senior academic specializing in the ethics and philosophy of development, environment, and international relations, and by Prue Taylor, an expert in environmental law and ethics.

More information here.

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Celebrating EC+15 with a climate change walk in Kenya

On September 25th, 2015, the Green Belt Movement, Earth Charter Affiliate in Kenya, celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter with a Climate Change walk in Kitale town, parallel to Professor Wangari Maathai’s fourth memorial anniversary walk in Nairobi.  This event was organized in collaboration with Green Cross Sweden.

The walk aimed at mobilizing communities to raise their voice on climate change and engage local leaders to address this global issue. Individuals and organizations were also called upon to endorse the Earth Charter, which calls for a global partnership for a just, sustainable and peaceful world. More than 300 people endorsed the Earth Charter and 2000 flyers about the Earth Charter were distributed.

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Earth Charter Opinion article by Climate Ethicist, Don Brown

In a few weeks, nations of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP21. This Convention emerged out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, just like the Earth Charter did, and has been one of the most interesting, successful, and also not successful international agreements. The ethical perspective of sustainability, which is the central focus of the Earth Charter, should play a larger role in government policy making, and this is apparent when looking at the climate change challenge. In his essay, Don Brown looks at several of these issues, using an ethical lens to dissect the climate change discourse, and urges governments and policy makers to include ethics specialists when forming climate change responses and policies.

You can download the essay here.

Earth Charter International is grateful that Don Brown has offered this essay to us for publication in our virtual library and we extend him our heartfelt thanks for his excellent work on ethics and his lifelong commitment to making the world a better place.

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Earth Charter invitation to webinar on Earth Community and Global Citizenship

EC+15 Webinar
The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship

On November 17th, 2015, ECI will host its sixth and last webinar in a series that began in February to celebrate the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary, to look back, observe the current issues of relevance to the Earth Charter, and to look ahead to the future of sustainability work and ethics. We will be joined on November 17th by Nigel Dower, a senior academic specializing in the ethics and philosophy of development, environment, and international relations, and by Prue Taylor, an expert in environmental law and ethics.

This webinar will air at the end of a very important year for sustainable development and international relations. 2015 has already seen the agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals, strong ethical statements including the Pope’s Encyclical, and is about to witness the much-discussed climate conference in Paris to begin at the end of November. What does all this mean for the future of the Earth Community and the human place in it? The two speakers will explore these issues and look to the future possibilities from the Earth Charter and sustainability perspectives in light of this year’s important sustainability processes.

Following both of the speakers’ interventions, there will be a question and answer period.

The webinar will take place on November 17th, 2015 at 18:00 UTC, 12:00 Costa Rica time, 07:00 Auckland time November 18th.

Join the webinar through the following link.

http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/3225840-ec-15-webinar-the-way-forward-earth-community-and-global-citizenship

If you want to participate, make sure your computer meets system requirements:

http://www.wiziq.com/info/technical-requirement.aspx

Guest speaker: Nigel Dower is Honorary Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Aberdeen and Academic Consultant. In June 2004, he took early retirement in order to pursue his interests in ‘exploring ethics in a globalized world’ through teaching, lectures, writing, and consultancy. His main research interests are in the field of the ethics/philosophy of development, environment and international relations. He taught for many years two special subjects relating to his research, one on the ethics of international relations, covering normative theories, war and peace, theories of justice/human rights and global citizenship, and the other on the ethics of development, environment and technology. He has also taught various other courses on the ethics of sustainable development.

Guest speaker: Prue Taylor received her legal qualifications from Victoria University, New Zealand and Tulane University, USA. She currently teaches environmental and planning law at the School of Architecture and Planning. She is the Deputy Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law and an elected member of the IUCN Commission of Environmental Law and its Ethics Specialist Group. Prue’s specialist interests are in the areas of climate change, human rights, environmental governance, ocean law and policy, property rights and environmental ethics. She has authored numerous books and articles in these areas. Her current research projects involve the following topics: local government and climate change; climate change ethics; common heritage of mankind and legal strategies for the commons.

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Earth Charter Plus 15 Webinar: COP21 Paris and Climate Change Policy

Earth Charter +15 Webinar
Thursday, 5th November

From Rio ‘92 to COP21 Paris: Challenges and Opportunities
for Climate Change Politics and Policies

This webinar will be the fifth in a series of webinars in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter. We will be joined by former Dutch Development Cooperation Minister and Former Minster for Environment Jan Pronk, a hands-on leader in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

In the lead-up to the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, guest speaker Mr. Pronk will offer his perspectives on the state of climate change policy and insights on the conference in Paris at the end of November. He will also discuss past successes and stumbling blocks, the potential of the COP21, and the future of climate policy. Climate change is one of the most important global issues and efforts to address climate change illustrate the intention of the Earth Charter +15 slogan, “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”.

This webinar will be broadcast from Earth Charter International’s learning center in Costa Rica and will welcome live guests from the community of the University for Peace.

Following Mr. Pronk’s presentation, there will be a question and answer period.

The webinar will take place on November 5th, 2015 at 18:15 UTC, 12:15 Costa Rica time, 1:15PM New York time, and 7:15PM Amsterdam time.

Join the webinar through the following link.

http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/3216704-earth-charter-presents-jan-pronk-talking-about-climate-change

If you want to participate, make sure your computer meets system requirements:

http://www.wiziq.com/info/technical-requirement.aspx

Guest speaker: Jan Pronk is former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (1998-2002) and former Minister for Development Co-operation (1989-1994) of The Netherlands. Pronk was also the Chairman 6th Conference of Parties UN Convention on Climate Change (2000-2001) and Special Envoy Secretary General United Nations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2001-2003). He is now a Special Advisor to the Earth Charter International.

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We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future.
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